COMMUNICATION TO THE MEDIA

Following is a copy of a communication that was sent to CNN, 60 Minutes and the Washington Post much earlier this year. There has been no reply to these or to communication follow-ups to all three.

To Whom it may Concern:

REQUEST:
On behalf of concerned citizens of the Town of Tonawanda New York area F.A.C.T.S. (For A Clean Tonawanda Site) would like to ask if your program might be interested in doing a story on what could be a general cover up or ignoring of health hazards relating to the Linde/Praxair (L/P) worksite here at Tonawanda, New York. There has been too much talk (by the powers that be) of there being "no problem" concerning the hazardous conditions locally, especially for the workers at L/P and the residents living in the surrounding neighborhood. Yet, $14 million dollars are being spent on a "non-problem." According to results of studies by leading epidemiologists there is a problem.

BACKGROUND:
From documentation and material obtained by F.A.C.T.S.over the past four years from some of the top epidemiological experts and medical researchers known throughout the United States and, in some cases, throughout the world, there are strong indications that we have a real problem at Town of Tonawanda. F.A.C.T.S. has also been actively engaged in obtaining documentation from the DOE under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

OVERVIEW:
This site was used to refine uranium ore for the production of the world's first atomic bombs. 50 years later, there are now five areas of contamination in the Town of Tonawanda which includes some of the buildings and grounds at the L/P site that have been contaminated with 11e2 radioactive waste.

LINDE/PRAXAIR:
When employees were hired on at L/P they were never told that there could be a possibility of them being exposed to radioactive contamination. If they were, they could have made an informed, intelligent decision as to whether or not they wanted to work at L/P. But no, they unknowingly worked in areas of contamination in excess of present day guidelines day after day, year in, year out. Due to a very high number of various types of cancer among the hourly (factory) workers, we feel there is a connection between these cancers and the employees' long-term exposure to this radioactive material. In recent years, some of these contaminated buildings have been designated as restricted areas. Did the radiation hazards just recently become hazardous enough to warrant restricting these areas? We think not!

PROBLEMS:
Neighbors living around the L/P area have been expressing concerns about cancers in their area.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) have refused to do a health study of the workers at L/P. This was requested by the union representing the workers at L/P. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says it is not within their jurisdiction.

At present, the Department of Energy (DOE) is in the process of doing an "interim" partial cleanup at the L/P site. In April of 1994, the DOE suspended their original plans to demolish several of the contaminated buildings. Instead, they are now trying to decontaminate some of these buildings. As time goes on, they (DOE) are running into more problems than they ever expected. Congressman LaFalce was able to obtain $14 million to deal with this "interim" partial cleanup. Since decontamination is a very labor-intensive process, it appears that this money may be "eaten up" by DOE's attempts to decontaminate these buildings.

We firmly believe that this is another attempt by DOE to pull more of their "smoke and mirror" routines on the public as they've been known to do in the past.

Also, their is another problem which relates to the emission of radon gas from a local municipal landfill known as the Seaway (Niagara) landfill. The Town of Tonawanda wants to set up a cogenerating gas extraction plant to produce electricity from the methane gas being produced by the decaying garbage. Unfortunately, years ago, some of the radioactive waste from the uranium processing was dumped into the landfill. This project has become another major problem to the public because of the excess radon gas that will be emitted when the blowers are started up.

NO ACTION BY RESPONSIBLE AGENCIES:
Although the measurements by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) of the radon being passively released from the landfill indicate that the emissions of radon are many times above the "triggering" level of New York regulations, which requires that a permit be obtained by the owner of the landfill, not one agency is demanding that a permit be required before the gas extraction blowers be allowed to be turned on. We have been after NYSDOH, NYSDEC and the New York State Attorney General's offices to take action, but it appears no one wants to do anything about this. Now, that DOE has said they will not be removing any of the radioactive material from the landfill, we have asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to step in and regulate (require a permit by the owner of the landfill) this radioactive material. Dennis Sollenberg of NRC, has not responded to our letters to him.

UNANSWERED LETTERS:
Letters written and faxes sent relating to this serious health problem are being totally ignored by all concerned parties. These include letters to New York State Governor Pataki; New York State Attorney General Vacco; Aura Weinstein, New York State Department of Health (to do a health study on the nearby residents' cancer rates). Some of these letters originated several months ago.

CHANGE OF POSITION BY POLITICIANS:
Recently, the Coalition Against Nuclear materials in Tonawanda (CANiT) - which is a group of politicians from Congressman LaFalce down to local politicians - has changed its position on the radioactive wastes in the town. Up to this point, CANiT was all for removing all of the radioactive waste from the town. Now, (since a "closed door" meeting by Congressman John LaFalce held in Buffalo earlier this year) CANiT has compromised with the DOE and is willing to allow restricted use of areas where residual contamination will be left behind. We note that local stakeholders including F.A.C.T.S.* were not invited to this meeting. Plans are underway to build homes near these contaminated areas, but CANiT wants no fencing or radioactive warning signs in these areas. This project is commonly known as the Waterfront Project. We all feel that it is good to increase your local tax base, but not at the expense of local residents' health. It would appear that big money and the powerbrokers are the driving engine to proceed with this less than desirable "interim" cleanup of the area.

WHAT REGULATIONS?:
It also appears that we have many laws, regulations, etc. designed to protect the health of citizens, but we can find no one person or agency who is willing to enforce any of these. It has become apparent that money is the driving engine here, with no regard for the present or future public health safety.

IN CONCLUSION:
We realize that this is a very, very brief synopsis of the whole story. It would take volumes to explain the whole story in detail. If you find that you are interested, we would like to talk to you so that this problem may be explored in detail. Documentation is available to back up what is being presented here. This is not chicken little running around shouting the sky is falling, we have some serious health problems. If you ask questions of the politicians and agencies, they will only downplay the seriousness of the situation. We feel that the public should be made aware of the future repercussions to human health if, in fact, all of the radioactive waste is not removed.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

F.A.C.T.S.
e-mail: facts@freenet.buffalo.edu

*F.A.C.T.S. (For A Clean Tonawanda Site) was founded in November of 1994 mainly to get the truth out to the public. Also to circulate information gleaned from research documents which the average person would not have time to access. We have become very sick and tired of the "smoke and mirror" routines, "passing the buck", and downplaying the seriousness of the problems by both legislators and the various government bureaucracies.

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